Sondheim fans are being spoilt at the moment, as not one but two of his shows have opened in London over the past few days, and Mr Sondheim himself has already given both productions his seal of approval.
Firstly Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton has begun previews at the Savoy Theatre. Jonathan Kent’s production transfers to the West End following an acclaimed run at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Imelda Staunton dazzles as Momma Rose, giving a career defining performance. Apparently after seeing Staunton play Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Sondheim insisted that she needed to take on the role of Momma Rose.
Earlier this week Sondheim also attended the very first performance of Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum. Starring Bryn Terfel as Sweeney Todd and Emma Thompson as Mrs Lovett, the concert staging plays a limited engagement until 12th April 2015. Marking the English National Opera’s first musical collaboration, the show has smashed box office records – it is one of the hottest tickets in town!
Shakespeare In Love has entered the final weeks of its West End run at the Noel Coward Theatre. The play will complete its run on 18th April 2015 having played more than 330 performances since its West End premiere in 2014. Disney’s production extended its run several times and is expected to launch a UK Tour and transfer to Broadway. Featuring a company of 28 actors, musicians and a dog, Shakespeare In Love is quite a spectacle!
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has announced its new West End cast. Starring alongside the previously announced Jonathan Slinger as Willy Wonka from 4th May 2015 will be Kraig Thornber (Grandpa George), Lara Denning (Mrs Bucket) and Mark Oxtoby (Jerry). Original cast members Ross Dawes and Derek Hagen will take over as Mr Salt and Mr Bucket, with almost two-thirds of the current cast staying for another year.
Watch out London, because it looks like Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s musical adaptation of The Calendar Girls could be heading to the West End next year! Following a successful workshop, the piece is receiving two regional tryouts in November and January in Leeds and Salford. Over £1 million has already been taken at the box office; the show will likely transfer to the West End once it has been tweaked and fine-tuned.
In other news, the RSC’s production of Oppenheimer has begun performances at the Vaudeville Theatre, Bomber's Moon its set to transfer to Trafalgar Studios 2 in April starring former EastEnders actor Steve John Shepherd and a new Beatles show Love Is All You Need has announced plans to tour the UK ahead of a possible West End run.